Wedding Traditions in Japan - The Traditional Japanese Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Manners in Japan | Wedding in Japan | Marriage in Japan | Attending a Wedding in Japan | Japanese Wedding | #CulturalTravel #JapanTravel
I have been living in Japan for over two years now and was invited to a beautiful wedding by one of my work colleagues last year. It was a beautiful ceremony, but I couldn’t help but compare it to the only other wedding I had been invited to, in Germany. So, I decided to write a post about the wedding traditions in Japan. 
In the part I published last week I explained about the reply to a wedding invitation and what kind of wedding gift to prepare.
This weeks post will be all about the traditional Japanese wedding ceremony itself.

Traditionally the Japanese wedding has two parts. The religious part is held at a Shinto shrine where the couple is married by a Shinto priest. Usually only the closest family and maybe a few select friends of the couple attends this part. If you are invited to the traditional Japanese wedding ceremony at a shrine know that it really is an honour and enjoy it.

japanese wedding at a shrine

After the ceremony at the shrine is over, the reception celebration is held. This is where most people are invited to attend. There are many beautiful venues in Japan for your reception, like hotels and other beautiful halls. This part also involves many wedding traditions that are different from those in other countries.

Arriving at the Reception

When you arrive at the location, there is a reception for you to hand over your present (envelope with money), and receive some information like the seating chart and short notes form the bride and groom.

The notes about the bride and groom at the wedding I attended were really cute, with pictures from their childhood and little stories about them.

The Traditional Japanese Wedding Ceremony

If you are used to a party with DJ and dancing, you will be disappointed. The master of ceremonies will lead through the program, he will make a joke or two and have a lot of wisdom about marriage live for the newlywed couple. The wedding traditions in Japan are all very formal with a lot of speeches, so better set your expectations that way.

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The Entrance of the Bride and Groom

It all starts with the entrance of the bride and groom. The lights will be dimmed and romantic music will start playing in the background. Depending on the venue their path may differ, but they will usually enter the room and make their way slowly through the seats of the guests to the front where their places are facing the guests. 


During a delicious meal with a lot of different courses you will get to listen to speeches from the groom, friends and even bosses of the couple. They will all talk about their upbringing, engagement at work and other activities in their communities. Of course, there will be advice on a successful marriage. But also a lot of tearful moments. It’s okay to cry a tear or two, not to say encouraged. It isn’t a good ceremony if it doesn’t make you at least a little teary eyed.


You will have multiple chances to take a picture with the happy couple and to congratulate them on tying the knot. This will usually be between courses. 

We had the first picture session before the traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, after the reception. But took some more pictures during the meal with different constellations of people.

japanese wedding picture

This one was with all the colleagues who started working at our company at the same time as me.

Change Clothing

It is customary for the bride and even the groom to change outfits at least once, some change clothes multiple times. They will leave the room, change and come back making a big entrance.
At the wedding ceremony we attended they changed into a different set of kimono. A lot of other Japanese people nowadays marry in a white wedding dress or change into a colorful dress at some point. I loved the Kimono and found it just fit much better to the traditional Japanese wedding ceremony than a dress could.
A new outfit is of course again an opportunity to take more pictures!
japanese wedding picture

Cake Cutting

At the ceremony we attended there was a cake, exactly like you are probably used to from your own country, but I think that is more the influence from then western culture than a Japanese wedding tradition. They even cut it together and fed each other the first fork-full of cake. It was really sweet to look at. And also delicious!
japanese wedding picture

San San Kudo

A more Japanese tradition than the cake cutting is the sake sharing, called san san kudo. It symbolises the formal bond of the groom and bride when they drink from the same cup of sake.

sake japanese wedding

The Video

In recent years the couple prepares a video with pictures from their childhood, the story where and how they met and what lead them to get married. This is again funny in some places and very touching in others. Crying is encouraged!

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The Brides Letter

The ceremony ends with a letter the bride reads to her parents, saying thank you for a happy upbringing and beautiful childhood. It is supposed to make everyone cry, and it sure did and it was really emotional. And beautiful.

Guest Presents and Goodbye

Before you leave, don’t forget to take with you your present! It is usually something sweet and another small gift.
Lastly, you get in line to congratulate the couple again and say thank you to them and their parents for the invitation and the beautiful time you had.
Now you should be prepared when attending a Japanese wedding and know about the basic wedding traditions in Japan. If you have ever been to one, please share your experience with all of us in the comments below. And if you still have some questions please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

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Wedding Traditions in Japan - The Traditional Japanese Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Manners in Japan | Wedding in Japan | Marriage in Japan | Attending a Wedding in Japan | Japanese Wedding | #CulturalTravel #JapanTravel
The Japanese Wedding Celebration - Japanese Wedding Traditions and Customs - The Social Travel Experiment | Wedding in Japan | Wedding Traditions | Wedding Ceremony in Japan | Cultural Travel | Japanese Culture | #Travel


Authors Note:
None of the experiences in this post are in any way sponsored and have all been payed for by myself. The opinions stated are all my own and have not been influenced in any way.
This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a commission if a product is purchased through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Please support me by purchasing products through my links!

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